Anticipating ageing

A new article Anticipating ageing: Older adults reading their medical records (full-text for subscribers) on older adults perceptions of reading their medical record and using e-health services, written in collaboration between HIBA project and researchers of Swedish DOME Consortium has been published in Information Processing & Management. A post-print version of the article can be found at


In spite of the general interest in health information behaviour, there is little earlier research on how older adults, who are still active in working life but approaching retirement, differ from other age groups. A survey with Swedish patients who had ordered and read their medical record was conducted to map the preferences and motivations of older adults (born 1946-1960) ordering a copy of their medical record, and using medical records based e-health and information services in the future. The results do not indicate an obvious linear relationship between age and motivation to use online health information but show several differences between the age groups. Older adults were less interested in communication with their medical doctor by e-mail. Yet, they had searched health information in the Internet during the last week more likely than young. They were more inclined to read medical record to get an overview of their health than young, but less confident that they understood most of the content or turn to their family and friends to seek help than the elderly. When compared to younger adults and elderly people, older adults are the least confident and least motivated to use online health information. It is suggested that older adulthood can be seen as a transitory stage of life when the need of health information increases and engagement with health changes. The results agree with prior research on the potential usefulness of (online) medical records as a way to inform citizens. However, specific provision strategies may be necessary to match the needs and motivations of different age groups.

HIBA at Information Studies Days 2016

HIBA researchers were present at Information Studies Days (Informaatiotutkimuksen päivät) held in Tampere at 3rd and 4th of December 2016.

Information Studies days is a national, biennial conference arranged by the National Association of Information Studies ITY ry (Informaatiotutkimuksen yhdistys) and the three departments that provide education in the field of information studies in Finland, namely, Information Studies at the University of Oulu, Information Studies and Interactive Media at the University of Tampere, and Information Studies at Åbo Akademi University. In 2016 the days were organized at the University of Tampere with around 150 participants.

As the Chairman of ITY, HIBA researcher Heidi Enwald opened the days. Her welcoming words were followed by Kai Halttunen’s talk about the history of these days and Professor Erkki Karvonen’s keynote speech on how information and communication technologies shape society and culture.

I myself hosted a session labeled Health infomation behaviour, health information literacy and e-health with four presentations:

Heidi Enwald presented preliminary results of our systematic review on previous research on the views of older adults of the contents of eHealth services. It seems that relatively few studies have focused on the content of these services the main interest being in the acceptance of used technologies.

Jonas Tana talked about infodemiology which refers to the study of the determinants and distribution of health information in an electronic medium with a goal to improve public health. In his doctoral study Jonas is going to investigate how infodemiological data can be used to increase understanding of online health information seeking behaviour.

Anna-Maija Huhta

Anna-Maija Huhta explaining her research at Information Studies Days 2016. Picture: Heidi Enwald

I presented the framework of the project CogAHealth that has just started at the University of Oulu. In this project we are focusing on young people’s conceptions of cognitive authority in the context of health, that is, who and what do young people believe in health issues and how these beliefs are constructed. This joint project with Information Studies and Educational Sciences at the University of Oulu is funded by the Academy of Finland. In connection to this, doctoral student Anna-Maija Huhta, who is part of the CohAHealth research group, talked about her research concerning young people’s new health literacies. In particular, Anna-Maija is interested in studying young people’s literacy practices in social media.

HIBA researcher Kristina Eriksson-Backa hosted a session Information behaviour and information practices among minority and special groups with four presentations:

Ari Haasio talked about sharing information in a “small world” by prensenting a study of a discussion group called Hikikomero. Based on his analysis of the discussions, Ari presented a model of interaction in discussion group posts. Nahla Hewidy spoke about the service needs of asylum seekers. She and her colleagues had studied the needs of this group of people in order to formulate guidelines to develop and improve library services.

A doctoral student at the University of Oulu, Aira Pohjanen, presented her study concerning the information seeking of gender minorities. The study focused on the importance of peers in information seeking. At the end of this session, J Tuomas Harviainen presented an interesting and perhaps a bit unusual study on the information practices of Finnish sadomasochists.

In a parallel Knowledge management session HIBA researcher Helena Känsäkoski presented her study on information and knowledge processes in health care. In her presentation, Helena introduced a model of information and knowledge processes in health care and presented results of an empirical study on the role of the patients and families in these processes.


Audience listening to a presentation at Information Studies Days 2016. Picture: Heidi Enwald

Overall, this year there were 32 presentations at the Information Studies Days the topics ranging from information behaviour to digital humanities and data management. Extended abstracts for all of the presentations were published in Informaatiotutkimus 35(3).

New article: Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account in the design of e-health services

The HIBA project approach and rationale for studying health information behaviour and health information literacy as a premise of developing successful e-health services is discussed in a new article just published in the Finnish Journal for eHealth and eWelfare vol 8, issue 4.


The aim of this article is to bring forward the benefits of a better integration of a comprehensive understanding of individuals information behaviour in the design and development of e-health services. This study is a descriptive review based on a non-exhaustive selection of literature that describes the state-of-the-art, problems and opportunities identified in e-health, health information behaviour and health information literacy research. By focusing on how to tailor the information provided and the technological devices to fit the information behaviour, the approach has also potential to uncover new insights into how to adequately implement and integrate ICTs into everyday life practices of other hard-to-reach groups in society. We presuppose that it will be possible to give practical recommendations based on a combined understanding of individual differences in health information behaviour and users expectations and experiences, acquired through empirical studies focusing on older adults. Moreover, the usefulness of health information literacy as an indicator of the patterns and competences related to health information behaviour is highlighted.

Full text of the article at FinJeHeW site.